A new group in Kemptville is focused on helping guide people through the practice of meditation. The Kemptville Mindfulness Club is the brainchild of Justin Ralph, a local performer who has been practicing meditation on and off for about 12 years. “It’s become a bit of a hobby,” Justin says, explaining that his practice has evolved to meditating for two twenty-minute sessions a day and working with a meditation coach from Hawaii.
Justin has been traveling in and out of Ottawa to mindfulness groups and has found something very powerful about meditating alongside other people. After doing a bit of research, he realized there weren’t any mindfulness groups in Kemptville or the surrounding area, and thought it would be beneficial to start one.
The idea behind meditation is not to completely clear the mind, but to non-judgementally notice what is coming up for you and to bring yourself back to the present moment throughout the practice. “It’s all about noticing the thoughts and sensations that come up,” Justin says. “The human mind isn’t built not to think.”
Justin acknowledges that meditation has a bit of a PR problem. There is something very intimidating and foreign for many people about sitting silently in a room with your own thoughts. However, studies have shown that meditation can have some great benefits for your overall well-being. “It’s like doing push ups for your brain,” Justin says.
According to Psychology Today, the benefits of meditation are numerous. It has been proven to boost physical health, happiness, social life, self control, brain function, productivity and emotional stability. Justin says he has definitely felt the benefit of meditation in his anxiety levels, social interactions, and his reactivity towards life’s stressors. “Nothing goes away, but I don’t react as much to emotions, thoughts or difficulties,” he says. “It’s a great tool to have in your toolbox.”
The group will be hosted by Compassionate Support of Stressful Times founder, Shulamit Ber Levtov, in her new space on County Road 43. During the group, participants will be led through a 20-minute guided meditation, followed by some time to debrief and talk about anything that is on participants’ minds. Justin will lead it at first, but his goal is for it to become a community-led group. “I want to democratize meditation,” he says. “You don’t need to be an expert.”
He hopes that the Kemptville Mindfulness Club will be a safe space for people to come to centre themselves and talk about what is going on in their lives. “We don’t tend to connect a lot to people in person,” he says. “[It’s about] having that sense of community.”
The first meeting of the Club will be on Sunday, February 24, at 7:30pm. For more information, you can find them on Facebook, or visit the website www.kemptvillemindfulnessclub.com.